J. Cole Reliant Arena, October 18
Perhaps it's the diversity of J. Cole's parental influences -- his mom raised him on folk and classic rock, while his dad added Tupac and Outkast -- that makes his style so diverse and insightful. Or perhaps it's the higher learning that Cole acquired while on full scholarship to St John's University that adds a bit more meaning.
But whatever it is that makes the North Carolina-raised rapper and producer so different, it works. Cole's unique storyteller vibe has taken him from a post-college job as a bill collector to a member of Roc Nation's upper echelon, where he transcends current hip-hop trends with thoughtful, polished rhymes over a hearty base of raw beats and soulful sounds. ANGELICA LEICHT